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Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne: Elisa Balsamo storms to another major win

Wiebes winning streak ended in second, Bastianelli finishes third.

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World champion Elisa Balsamo (Trek-Segafredo) made it two WorldTour wins in a row, winning the Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne from a reduced bunch sprint. The WorldTour leader beat Lorena Wiebes (Team DSM) for the first time this season, whilst Marta Bastianelli (UAE Team ADQ) finished third.

A crash in the final 20km heavily reduced the peloton, but all the key sprinters kept uptight and contested the finish in De Panne. Despite a day of attacks and counter-attacks, the pan-flat route and lack of crosswinds resulted in an expected fast finish among the WorldTour sprinters.

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The peloton rolled out from the centre of Bruges under sunny and blue skies on Thursday, and the winds low on the traditionally exposed route from Bruges to De Panne.

From the gun, the race was on in the 135-rider bunch as various teams tried to find their way into the breakaway ahead of the expected sprint finish in De Panne. With no hills or crosswinds from which to launch attacks, the pace was very high with a flurry of attacks off the front.

Several riders and small groups tried to force a move in the opening kilometres of racing, but it was Nicole Steingenga (Coop-Hitec Products) who was the first to open up a small gap with a solo attack. Steingenga was then joined by Hannah Ludwig (Uno-X), April Tacey (Le Col-Wahoo) and Antonia Gröndahl (IBCT), and the quartet quickly built a 40 second advantage after 20km of racing. 

The Parkhotel-Valkenburg duo of Kirstie van Haaften and Marith Vanhove then bridged across to the leaders, helping to stretch the break’s lead to over a minute for the first time with 50km complete.

The peloton let the gap stabilise briefly as the race headed towards De Panne, but kept the leading group on a tight rein, coming back down to 40 seconds by the time they started the first of two 45km finishing laps. The gap rapidly fell once the laps got underway, and the original breakaway was reeled in by the peloton with still 75km to race.

Almost immediately after the catch was made, a counter-attack of four riders escaped the peloton: Sara Van de Vel (IBCT), Danique Braam (Bingoal Casino), Fien Delbaere (Multum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team) and Senne Knaven (AG Insurance-NXTG Team) took advantage of a lull in the peloton to build a significant gap in a matter of kilometres. The group enjoyed a lead of around 45 seconds – enough for Braam to take the intermediate sprint at 60km to go – but the peloton were again unwilling to let the gap grow too much and the four riders were brought back after just 20km of escape.

Heading into the second lap and the final 45km of the race, the bunch remained intact as several teams tried to up the pace and reduce the field, though the effect was limited. It wasn’t until the final 35km that the key sprinters’ teams – Movistar, SD Worx, Trek-Segafredo – really had to put their noses in the wind, again setting a high pace but failing to shake off any significant number of riders. Alice Sharpe (IBCT) and Mieke Kroger (Human Powered Health) both attempted solo moves in the closing 25km, but neither gained any meaningful advantage.

With 16km to go, a crash on a particularly narrow section of road took out a large number of riders, cutting the peloton down to less than 40 riders. Whilst most of the pre-race favourites were on the right side of the split, the sudden reduction in the group forced a re-reckoning of teams’ tactics and resulted in a more aggressive run-in than expected for a bunch sprint as riders tried to take advantage of the reduced team numbers for the sprinters.

Ultimately though, the sprinters’ teams kept it together for a reduced but fast and competitive finish in De Panne. Lotte Kopecky (SD Worx) lead out the sprint into the final 300m in support of Lonneke Uneken, but it was Elisa Balsamo who was able to launch off Kopecky’s wheel and power to the line, with Lorena Wiebes and Marta Bastianelli unable to find their way around her and taking second and third respectively.

Despite having no team leadout to speak of, the world champion’s turn of speed was insurmountable, and the more organised leadout efforts from SD Worx and Movistar had to settle for fourth (Uneken) and sixth (Norsgaard). Balsamo said at the finish she had been working for Chloe Hosking, but had to change plans when the Australian was involved in a minor crash with 2km to go.

After taking victory at last weekend’s Trofeo Alfredo Binda, this is Balsamo’s second win in a row and third so far this year, and will see her extend her lead in the women’s WorldTour rankings. 


Exterioo Classic Brugge-De Panne Results

1BALSAMO ElisaTrek - Segafredo3:52:11
2WIEBES LorenaTeam DSM0:00
4UNEKEN LonnekeTeam SD Worx0:00
5MARTINS MariaLe Col - Wahoo0:00
6NORSGAARD EmmaMovistar Team0:00
7CONSONNI ChiaraValcar - Travel & Service0:00
8BARNES AliceCanyon//SRAM Racing0:00
9KOPECKY LotteTeam SD Worx0:03
10COPPONI ClaraFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:03
11STEIGENGA NicoleTeam Coop - Hitec Products0:03
12ANDERSEN SusanneUno-X Pro Cycling Team0:03
13BOOGAARD MaaikeUAE Team ADQ0:03
14MARKUS FemkeParkhotel Valkenburg0:03
15FIDANZA AriannaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco0:03
16HOSKING ChloeTrek - Segafredo0:03
17WILLIAMS LilyHuman Powered Health0:03
18TEUTENBERG Lea LinCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling0:03
19DE WILDE JuliePlantur-Pura0:03
20BOSSUYT ShariCanyon//SRAM Racing0:07
21GUARISCHI BarbaraMovistar Team0:10
22SERNÉ ElisaMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team0:12
23SWINKELS SylvieTeam Coop - Hitec Products0:12
24GASPARRINI Eleonora CamillaValcar - Travel & Service0:12
25WATERREUS KylieLotto Soudal Ladies0:12
26CROMWELL TiffanyCanyon//SRAM Racing0:12
27PERSICO SilviaValcar - Travel & Service0:12
28MAJERUS ChristineTeam SD Worx0:12
29DOCX MiekeLotto Soudal Ladies0:12
30MACPHERSON MakaylaHuman Powered Health0:12
31VAN 'T GELOOF MarjoleinLe Col - Wahoo0:12
32SANGUINETI IlariaValcar - Travel & Service0:12
33BIANNIC AudeMovistar Team0:12
34GONZÁLEZ AliciaMovistar Team0:19
35KIRCHMANN LeahTeam DSM0:19
36SÜßEMILCH LauraPlantur-Pura0:19
37CANT SannePlantur-Pura0:19
38STOCKMAN JulieMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team0:19
39BUJAK EugeniaUAE Team ADQ0:22
40FAHLIN EmiliaFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope0:22
41RAAIJMAKERS MaritHuman Powered Health0:22
42OYARBIDE LourdesMovistar Team0:22
43KRÖGER MiekeHuman Powered Health0:22
44KUIJPERS EvyHuman Powered Health0:22
45VIGIE MargauxValcar - Travel & Service0:31
46OTTESTAD Mie BjørndalUno-X Pro Cycling Team0:31
47CHRISTIE HenriettaHuman Powered Health0:42
48VAN DER WOLF RosalieParkhotel Valkenburg0:51
49PATERNOSTER LetiziaTrek - Segafredo0:53
50CECCHINI ElenaTeam SD Worx1:16
51CONFALONIERI Maria GiuliaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling1:16
52ROOIJAKKERS PaulienaCanyon//SRAM Racing1:16
53KOOL CharlotteTeam DSM1:51
54TREVISI AnnaUAE Team ADQ1:53
55ERIĆ JelenaMovistar Team1:53
56DE ZOETE MylèneAG Insurance - NXTG Team2:00
58BURLOVÁ KristýnaLotto Soudal Ladies2:00
59BUCH HannahRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad2:01
60KESSLER NinaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco2:01
61BAKKER MinkeBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport2:03
62DELBAERE FienMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team2:03
63LUDWIG HannahUno-X Pro Cycling Team2:03
64FULLER HayleeIBCT2:03
65VAN HAAFTEN KirstieParkhotel Valkenburg2:03
66VAN DER MOLEN YuliAG Insurance - NXTG Team2:03
67REIßNER LenaIBCT2:03
68COMMISSARIS CarenBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport2:03
70DIDERIKSEN AmalieTrek - Segafredo2:03
71WILLIAMS GeorgiaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco2:03
72VAN DER HEIJDEN IngePlantur-Pura2:03
73CAMPBELL TenielTeam BikeExchange - Jayco2:09
74BARBIERI RacheleLiv Racing Xstra2:09
75JACKSON AlisonLiv Racing Xstra2:57
76HENDRICKX JulieBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport2:57
77DEMEY ValerieLiv Racing Xstra2:57
78MAES SaraMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team2:57
79NELSON JosieTeam Coop - Hitec Products2:57
80TACEY AprilLe Col - Wahoo2:57
81SCHWEINBERGER KathrinCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling2:57
82VAN DER DUIN MaikeLe Col - Wahoo2:57
83VIECELI LaraCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling2:57
84FOURNIER RoxaneTeam SD Worx2:57
85KING ElunedLe Col - Wahoo2:57
86BUURMAN EvaLiv Racing Xstra2:57
87GRÖNDAHL AntoniaIBCT3:03
88VAN ROOIJEN SofieParkhotel Valkenburg3:08
89ZANETTI LindaUAE Team ADQ3:08
90KOERNER RebeccaUno-X Pro Cycling Team3:08
91OLAUSSON WilmaUno-X Pro Cycling Team3:08
92VAN ANROOIJ ShirinTrek - Segafredo3:08
93BRANDT EefjeLotto Soudal Ladies3:08
94DE CLERCQ KatrijnLotto Soudal Ladies3:47
95JONGERIUS ClaudiaBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport3:47
96HANSON LaurettaTrek - Segafredo3:47
97KNAVEN SenneAG Insurance - NXTG Team3:47
98BOS LeonieParkhotel Valkenburg3:47
99VAN DER HULST AmberLiv Racing Xstra4:00
100DRONOVA-BALABOLINA TamaraRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad4:00
101KLIMOVA DianaRoland Cogeas Edelweiss Squad4:01
102TVEIT NoraTeam Coop - Hitec Products4:01
103CRABBÉ KionaPlantur-Pura4:01
104DUVAL EugénieFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope4:01
105BOOGAARD EmmaTeam Coop - Hitec Products4:01
106ANDERSSON CarolineTeam Coop - Hitec Products4:01
107BROWN GraceFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope4:01
108GROSSETÊTE MaëlleFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope4:01
109VAN HOUTUM CélineMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team4:01
110VAN ROOIJEN ElineAG Insurance - NXTG Team4:01
111BORGLI StineFDJ Nouvelle Aquitaine Futuroscope4:01
112MASETTI GaiaAG Insurance - NXTG Team4:01
113LETH JulieUno-X Pro Cycling Team4:01
114BAKER GeorgiaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco8:26
115BRAAM DaniqueBingoal Casino - Chevalmeire - Van Eyck Sport8:26
116VAN TEESELING BenteMultum Accountants Ladies Cycling Team8:26
117SHARPE AliceIBCT8:26
118ALLEN JessicaTeam BikeExchange - Jayco8:28
119ALONSO SandraCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling8:28
120BRAUßE FranziskaCeratizit-WNT Pro Cycling8:28
121JASTRAB MeganTeam DSM8:28
122CURINIER LéaTeam DSM8:28
123VAN DE VELDE JuliePlantur-Pura8:28
124PEPERKAMP EsméeTeam DSM8:33
125RAGUSA KatiaLiv Racing Xstra8:33

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.